The SEJ WatchDog


Searchable archives of the biweekly WatchDog TipSheet's story ideas, articles, updates, events and other information with a focus on freedom-of-information issues of concern to environmental journalists in both the U.S. and Canada are posted here on the day of publication. Journalists are eligible for a free email subscription; send name and full contact information to the SEJ office. WatchDog TipSheet is also available via RSS feed.

Latest WatchDog TipSheet Items

December 14, 2011

  • One example is Walt Tamosaitis, who works for an Energy Department subcontractor. He told a Senate panel on December 6, 2011, that when he raised technical issues about whether nuclear waste cleanup was being done right at the Hanford Site in Washington, he was taken off the project and exiled to the basement.

  • The Portland judge ruled that blogger Crystal Cox, who published allegations against businessman Kevin Padrick and was subsequently sued by Padrick for defamation, was not a journalist as she lacked any conventional journalistic credentials or affiliations, and therefore was not entitled to the protections of the state's shield law.

  • Colorado, which adopted its disclosure rules December 13, 2011, joins Texas, Pennsylvania, and several other states in requiring some disclosure by drillers of the chemicals they pump into shale formations under high pressures to release natural gas. Scores of chemicals, some very toxic, may be involved.

  • Jack Abramoff, a former lobbyist convicted of mail fraud, is now on a book tour. At least one member of Congress visited him in prison. The federal Bureau of Prisons so far has not released any other names in response to Sunlight's FOIA request.

November 30, 2011

  • The Center for Progressive Reform looked at public records on 1,080 meetings held between October 2001 and June 2011 between the White House Office of Management and Budget and lobbyists from various interest groups. Results show the Obama administration is as bad as the Bush administration when it comes to secret meetings with industry to weaken environmental health and safety regulations.

  • The San Francisco Chronicle revealed almost all records of the state's Public Utilities Commission, which regulates pipelines, are secret — and the PUC typically asks permission from the utility companies before releasing any information. In most other states, such information is freely available to the public.

  • The studies are submitted by companies who use the chemicals in commerce, under the Toxic Substances Control Act. EPA's online searchable database can help you find information about such health studies, which were previously withheld because of industry trade-secret claims.

  • If you are worried that ingredients in cleaning products may aggravate your allergies, mess up your sex hormones, or cause cancer, you may not find out what they are. The International Fragrance Association North America and the American Cleaning Institute are opposing a bill introduced in the House that would require cleaning products to carry ingredients lists on the package label.

  • Although details of what is said between lobbyists and the White House officials who rewrite agency rules remain largely secret, the Center for Progressive Reform's searchable database allows you to track whether OMB is meeting its deadlines, whether a meeting is linked to an OIRA regulatory review, and whether OIRA changed the rule.

November 16, 2011